Marketers have been diversifying their digital channels in response to changing consumer behaviors, and new data [download page] from Nielsen confirms that digital media continue to be the main beneficiaries of budget expectations for 2022.

As part of its 5th Global Annual Marketing Report, Nielsen asked almost 2,000 marketers worldwide their expectations on budget changes this year as well as for their level of confidence in these paid media channels’ effectiveness. Here are some highlights from the results.

Budget Plans

Digital

In the traditional versus digital stakes, it’s clear that marketers around the world are favoring digital with their budget allocations, much as they have in the US for some time now.

The leading channel for budget increases this year is social media, with almost one-fifth (19%) expecting a 50%+ increase, and an additional almost-half (46%) planning an increase of 0-49%. With this level of predicted increases, it’s no wonder that social media ad spending is projected to overtake TV globally this year. It also appears warranted, as people have been using social media more since the onset of the pandemic, and are using social media more to discover new products and brands.

Beyond social, other digital stalwarts are also likely to see increased budget attention this year. A majority of respondents expect their video spending (online/mobile) to increase, either by more (16%) or less (46%) than 50%. Likewise, a majority expect the same for their display (online/mobile) spending (14% and 48%, respectively).

Search (58%) and OTT-TV/Connected-TV (52%) round out the channels for which a majority are predicting an increase in spend of some degree.

By comparison, close to half are projecting an increase in expenditures on streaming audio (49%), podcasts (49%), email (47%), and native advertising (46%).

Traditional

Budget enthusiasm is more muted for traditional media channels, though in each case more respondents are planning to increase than decrease their budgets.

Marketers are the most bullish about out-of-home, with almost half (48%) saying they expect an increase of at least 50% (12%) or less (36%). OOH spend has been rebounding in the US, and this is one of the traditional channels with the best outlook this year in the US. In fact, it is the only traditional channel among those listed in the Nielsen report that has a higher budget enthusiasm level than a digital channel.

Some 4 in 10 marketers expect to up their investment in linear TV by at least 50% (10%) or less (30%), double the share who expect their expenditures for TV to decrease. Direct mail is also projected for an increase by 4 in 10 respondents.

Although almost as many (38%) forecast an increase in their print ad spending, one-quarter project a decrease.

Finally, about one-third (35%) expect their cinema and AM/FM radio ad spending to grow this year.

Perceived Effectiveness

Digital

Traditionally, marketers have set their media mix based on what has proven effective to them, so it’s interesting to see the channels for which they express the most confidence as regards effectiveness.

A recent analysis of multimedia campaigns suggests that digital makes a greater contribution to brand metrics than it gets in spend share. This effectiveness is reflected in the perceptions of the marketers responding to Nielsen’s survey.

Marketers are most confident in social media, per the report, with almost two-thirds either extremely (28%) or very (36%) confident in its effectiveness. Marketers’ seem convinced of social media’s effectiveness despite signs it is still deemed the most difficult channel for revenue attribution. Somewhat surprisingly, separate results contained in the report, though, suggest that social media is the digital channel for which marketers are most confident in measuring ROI.

Following in close succession are video, display and search, each with almost 6 in 10 (58% of) respondents being extremely or very confident. Within the US, advertisers rate digital video and paid social highly for achieving both bottom- and top-of-the-funnel objectives, while paid search is the highest-rated channel for increasing sales.

Notably, podcasts are the medium with the lowest amount of confidence from marketers: 44% are either extremely (16%) or very (28%) confident in podcast ad effectiveness.

Traditional

Among traditional media, marketer’s confidence is highest for linear TV and OOH, with almost half of respondents (47%) in each case expressing that they are extremely or very confident in the effectiveness of these channels.

Direct mail – which experienced a rebound in volume in the US last year – is close behind, as 46% share that level of confidence in it.

The lowest level of confidence is reserved for AM/FM radio, for which 41% of respondents are extremely (14%) or very (27%) confident. Despite that, radio remains a critical vehicle for reach, being the channel with the widest weekly reach in the US.

For more details on budget expectations and effectiveness, download Nielsen’s report here.

About the Data: The results are based on an online survey conducted 12/2/21-1/12/22 among 1,943 global marketing professionals at or above the manager level, working with annual marketing budgets of at least $1 million. Respondents hailed from across the auto, financial services, FMCG, technology, health care, pharmaceuticals, travel, tourism and retail industries.

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